Thursday, December 15, 2011

Puerto Rico Legislature Moving To Strip GLBT People From Hate Crimes Law

Frederick Douglass said the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, and what's going on in Puerto Rico is a prime example of it.

The Isle of Enchantment back in 2002 passed a hate crimes law that included gender identity and expression and sexual orientation language.  But possibly because of increasing conservative Roman Catholic and fundamentalist influence prosecutors have ignored the law.

Late last month the Puerto Rican Senate put a lump of coal in the GLBT community civil rights stocking by voting to strip sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, ethnicity and religion language from the current statute but left the language covering political status, age and disability in it.

The measure is now in the Puerto Rican House of Representatives with Puerto Rico's governor Luis Fortuño (R) on record as saying he favors the current hate crimes law.

Of course the action of the Puerto Rican senate is causing an uproar on and off the island especially in light of the fact there have been 23 murders of trans and gay people and increased hate attacks aimed at the Puerto Rican rainbow community since 2009. 

"It’s an outrage and now we’re calling upon the House to restore this to where it should be,” said Pedro Julio Serrano of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Singer Ricky Martin, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) and Congressman Jose Serrano (D-IL) have blasted it as well. Congresswoman Velázquez, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and New York City Councilmembers Melissa Mark-Viverito, Rosie Mendez, Daniel Dromm and Jimmy Van Bramer urged lawmakers to reject the measure in a joint statement they issued on December 6.

Puerto Rican native Ricky Martin cited the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights when wrote on his blog "All citizens are equal under the law and have, without exception, the right to equal protection under the law." 

"To say this is appalling is an understatement," Congressman Serrano said, noting record homicide and other crime rates on the island. "Excluding more people from protections under the law is exactly the wrong thing to do, especially right now."

Damn skippy.  So people, time to get busy voicing your outrage and helping our peeps in Puerto Rico stop this attempt by bigots with legislative power to turn a just hate crimes law into an unjust one.

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